July 15, 2024

Remove People From Travel Photos!

Travel Photography presents some interesting and unique challenges.  If you have every tried to photograph popular locations or sites on your travels you have probably run into this problem.  You find the perfect angle for your photo and set up your shot.  But what’s this?  There are a bunch of people in front of you milling about, enjoying the view, and taking their own photos. They move around and don’t add anything to the view. What can you do?  You could A) try to ask them all to step aside for a moment – good luck with that.  Or you could B) simply  wait, and wait, and wait some more in the hope that some miracle will occur and the shot will be totally open and unobstructed for a moment – good luck with that also.

So here’s a little trick that I just discovered – one that the determined photographer can use in these popular and congested situations – one I wish I had known in the past!  It will allow you to remove those unwelcome people from your travel photos. Here’s how. Set your camera up on a tripod and frame the shot you want.  Then set the aperture and shutter speed for the exposure you are looking for – shooting in manual mode will work best for this.  Then shoot eight or ten images at say, 10 second intervals. Don’t worry about all those people in the shot.  When you are done – probably once you are back home – open up Photoshop and work some magic. (Sorry – this only works with Photoshop.  If you don’t have that program I guess you will have to try either A or B mentioned above.) If, however, you do have Photoshop then: Go to “File – Scripts – Statistics.”  At that point, under the “choose stack mode” box select “median”. Then select and open those eight to ten images you took on your journey and then click “OK”.  After a bit of serious computer processing Photoshop will generate a new composite image – one based on material that is consistent across all of the images.  The result – things that move around – like people – will “disappear.”  Now how cool is that.

As I mentioned above, I just learned this little trick so I don’t have any true “travel” images to show.  But I did test it out in front of my house.  I set up the tripod/camera and then set the camera to take a series of five images automatically while I walked down the side walk.  Here are those five individual images. (And no comments on the photography / or the subject matter  please – this is a test – it is only a test!)

median 5

median 4

median 3median 2median 1

So there I am, wandering along the sidewalk.  The first thing you will notice is that I have very poor posture. Gotta work on that.  But aside from such personal issues, you will see that I appear in each shot, but due to my movement I am at a different location in each shot.  Now here is the resulting image after using the technique described above.

Median Composite

It’s Magic!  Same scene but I have been totally removed! So go try it.  It won’t work on every occasion.  It will likely work best where there is considerable movement from the distracting / unwanted elements while at the same time the desired subject of your photo remains static.  So think “buildings” and “monuments” and “mountains” etc.

Good luck – let me know how it works for you.

Remove The People ………. And Enjoy The Adventure!

Dr.B, The PhotoTrekker

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